A man with a mission of serving the poor in the city
Vijayawada, Sept. 14: At 80, an Italian philanthropist and Italy-India Friendship Association chairman, Prof Gianandrea Gropplero is worried not about his health, but about the future of the poor in India.
Having been associated with the poor since 1989, Gianandrea, a person coming from the high-profile Italian royal family, is more associated with the poorest of the poor in India.
Today, he has several programmes for the welfare and overall uplift of the poor and the marginalised. They included, health, education and economic empowerment among the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and other weaker sections.
He is currently working to provide a rehabilitation home for street children in Vijayawada, which would consist of a computer training institute and a dispensary with all modern equipment, including scanning, laboratory and surgery facilities.
This all would come up at Deepa Nivas, a rehabilitation home established and maintained by the Social Service Centre of the Catholic Diocese of Vijayawada.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle on Friday, Gianandrea said he would be happy once the total project of the rehabilitation home was completed and the run-away kids come out as better citizens.
He has dreams that the children could learn assembling computers or become software engineers at the computer institute in the rehabilitation home. They could also learn the basics of health and become professionals at the dispensary in the coming years.
When asked what made him to choose Vijayawada, he attributes this to Mother Teresa. I wanted to serve the poor in India and reached Mumbai in 1989. I met Fr Maschio, who was then working for the leprosy patients. Fr Maschio advised me to go to Mother Teresa in Kolkata where I was with the Mother for 20 days. Then, the Mother asked me to choose one of the southern states where leprosy cases were more at that time. I selected Andhra Pradesh and landed in Vijayawada, he said.
Then as he went to the villages, Gianandrea said he had analysed the causes for leprosy and found that lack of protected drinking water, health facilities and poverty were the basic reasons.
It was then I started providing drinking water schemes for the villages and establishing dispensaries. Today about 500 villages spread over Khammam, Krishna, Guntur and West Godavari districts have drinking water schemes, he said.
Then, as a next step, he took up the cause of health and started establishing dispensaries in all these districts. Gianandrea has established over 20 dispensaries with modern equipment.
Professionals for these dispensaries are invited from Italy at regular intervals. After drinking water and dispensaries, Gianandrea concentrated on establishing schools for the poor and the neglected children. Today, there are 220 schools in this part of the State benefiting hundreds of children. But, he owes all this work to the generous people of European countries having a big heart.
He also established more than 50 co-operative societies for the poor and funded them to have their own fish ponds, milk units and other such economic activities. These activities, he said would make people come out of poverty.